Postnatal care is also known as postpartum care. Postpartum refers to the time period from delivery of the baby to first 6 weeks. It is medically termed as the puerperal period where the uterus that had been stretched to carry the baby is moving back to its normal size and position. If the mother is not given proper healthcare during this period, it might lead to various complications.
Postpartum complications include
- Haemorrhage – Excessive bleeding after delivery or late postpartum bleeding can occur due to retained placenta from 5th to 15th day of delivery.
- Vaginal discharge – Normal vaginal discharge after delivery is called as Lochia. Normally lochia stops by 4-6 weeks after delivery. Sometimes there may be abnormal, infected and prolonged lochia discharge.
- Infections – Bacterial infection may occur after delivery, characterized by fever with chills, anorexia, malaise, lower abdomen pain and abnormal vaginal discharge.
- Wound or localized infection – Infection may occur in the abdominal incision in LSCS or episiotomy in vaginal delivery. You may experience pain, purulent discharge from the suture, redness and swelling.
- Pain – You may feel local perineal pain due to episiotomy, full body ache and tiredness due to labor
- Constipation – Prolonged labor or LSCS may make you constipated for 2-3 days after delivery, due to intake of fewer foods, effects of medicines or due to fear of pain, few tend to hold the bowel.
- Hemorrhoids – Pregnancy makes you vulnerable to hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
- Urinary tract infection -Pain or burning sensation during urination, urgency and frequent urination suggest you have urinary tract infection.
- Postpartum depression – Few people may experience this after delivery for few days to weeks. You may experience mood swings, trouble in falling sleep, disturbed appetite, crying, anxiety, and irritability.
- Rare complications – incontinence to urine and stools.
- Mastitis or breast abscess or infection – You may experience localized pain due to blockage of milk or there may be a complete breast infection due to bacteria.
We get a lot of references about postpartum care in Ayurvedic classical texts. Even today we can witness different types of traditional postpartum care in Indian families, few practices are very scientific and beneficial for both mother and baby.
Ayurveda provides various guidance to avoid postpartum complications, to rejuvenate the mother’s body and medicines to improve lactation. According to Ayurveda, Vata is the dosha which is mainly vitiated after labour. Hence, various measures are taken to prevent it.
- Rest – Rest is the factor for complete recovery of the women and helps to bring back the strength. Avoid strenuous physical activity and household works for few weeks.
- Keep yourself warm – It is necessary to keep your body temperature warm. If needed you can keep a hot pack on your tummy and feet or do steaming. Avoid drinking cold water, soft drinks. Use only hot or warm water for drinking.
- Ambience – The room of mom and newborn should be clean, quiet, warm and cozy.
- Abdominal wrapping – A cotton cloth or dupatta must be wrapped around the abdomen after a normal delivery. It should be neither too loose nor too tight, you should feel comfortable. This will prevent sagging of abdomen, supports abdominal muscles and keeps the abdominal organs in position. Avoids accumulation of vata in empty spaces. If you had undergone C-section, consult your doctor before doing this.
- Sleep – Infants may stay awake at night and sleep during daytime, which will disturb your sleep. It is ideal if you adopt the sleeping pattern of your baby. Take short naps in the daytime with your baby.
- Bath – You should take hot water bath only and you can expose to fumigation. This makes you perspire, through which excess fluids accumulated during pregnancy will shed off. A sauna or stema bath can be taken a month after delivery.
- Oil massage – Gentle body massage with sesame oil, dhanwantharam thailam or mahanarayana thailam just before bath will help to strengthen the muscles, relief from pains and aches, improves blood circulation and rejuvenate the body.
- Refresh – Practise simple breathing exercise to refresh yourself.
- Weight loss – Immediately after delivery you will lose around 5kgs including baby weight, placenta, and amniotic fluid. In first few weeks you will lose still more weight by eliminating unwanted fluids. After that, you need to put your efforts into exercise and healthy diet to gain prepregnancy weight.
- Exercise – After six weeks of delivery you can talk to your doctor and start kegel’s exercise to strengthen your pelvic muscles.
- Hair loss – After delivery, some women will face hair fall which will stop gradually. You can use medicated oils like neelibringadi taila or bhringaraja taila to nourish your hair.
- Skin changes – Linea nigra, darkened streaks on your abdomen and dark patches on your face and neck will fade away gradually. To improve your skin glow you can use nalpamaradi taila for massage.
Measures to improve lactation
Breast feeding is beneficial for both mother and the baby. “Nursing does not diminish the beauty of a woman’s breasts; it enhances their charm by making them look lived in and happy” Robert A. Heinlein
- Ayurveda suggests certain diet during the prenatal period which is predominant in milk, ghee, butter and certain sweet herbs. Following this regimen will nourish the rasa dhatu (which is the first tissue formed as a result of digestion) in a woman who has delivered and thus increases the breast milk production in the postpartum period. According to Ayurveda breast milk is derived from rasa dhatu.
- It is advisable to eat freshly cooked, light and easily digestible food. Use sufficient amount of garlic, ginger, jeera, fennel seeds, fenugreek, pepper, ajwain, milk and ghee in cooking which prevents vitiation of vata and keeps your digestion strong. Avoid constipating foods like bread, burger, pizza, fries, etc.
- 1.Soak 10 almonds overnight. Next day morning blend the soaked almonds in a glass of milk, pinch of cardamom and sugar. Drink in the empty stomach.You can drink this twice a day.
- 2.Make sure to use 1-2 tsp of ghee in your diet.
- 3.Keep yourself hydrated by drinking sufficient water, milk and soups prepared out of lentils, jeera, pepper and ginger.
- 4.Use methi seeds and fennel seeds in cooking or you can prepare tea or you can powder the seeds and consume 1tsp with milk or honey.
Ayurvedic medicines to improve lactation:
- Consuming milk prepared with shatavari, ashwagandha will also enhances milk production.
- Saubhagya shunti paka, shatavari granules and leptaden tablets can be taken to increase milk production.
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Medicines which can be taken to avoid postpartum complications are
- Dashamoolarishta – Removes excess water retention from the body, improves lactation, strength, and immunity.
- Jeerakarishtam – Improves appetite, prevents constipation and gaseous distension of abdomen.
- Do sitz bath with warm water or panchavalkala kwatha, which will help in healing episiotomy wound, reduces pain if you are suffering with postpartum hemorrhoids or urinary tract infection. Do daily after defecation and can be done 2-3 times a day to relieve pain and discomfort.
- Apply ointment like panchavalkala lepa or arsha hita ointment if you have hemorrhoids.
- Avoid constant pressure on rectal veins to minimise the pain. Reduce sitting posture for long duration, lie down and take a small walk within the room in between.
- You can apply shatadhauta gritha if you have cracked and dry nipples. Always clean your nipples with warm water and avoid using strong soaps. Breastfeed your baby to avoid breast engorgement and sores.